Khali Ate Her Bear Cubs

She bowed her head as if to lick
the birth-slicked sloth bear while her keepers
cheered from a closed-circuit television screen.
Her lower lip scooped in the nursling
and she cradled it between her tongue
and the gap in her teeth before swallowing
her own kin. Then she ate another,
and her keepers gasped in horror. The world
stalked the comments section, sunk its canines
into her pelt, unhinged its jaw
and swallowed her whole. The doctor said
it was normal, that the babies were sick,
spewed words like survival, carcass, resources
in the wild, but no one listened. Her keepers said
we can do better—-with gloved hands, they cupped
the last bear cub like a harvested heart
and raised it while Khali wasn’t looking.
She should have been watching that baby, said the woman
wearing an oven mitt, fanning her cobbler. Pathological,
said the neighbors, flicking off their porch lights,
calling their children in from the wild.

Katy Day is a poet, literary arts administrator, and single mother living in Washington, DC. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in PANK, Little Patuxent Review, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. She is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Sierra Nevada College, where she was awarded the Exceptional Manuscript Scholarship